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Julie Smolyansky posed for a selfie with workers at the Whole Foods in Englewood. 0

CEO pays it forward at Englewood grocery store

December 13th, 2016

As she often does when she comes across a grocery store, Lifeway CEO Julie Smolyansky stopped by the Whole foods in Englewood the other day to see how her Kefir drinks were being displayed.

“It’s a new store and I wanted to check it out,” says Smolyansky, who had just visited a nearby Montessori to pass out gifts and Kefir drinks with Santa.

Filled with holiday spirit, Smolyansky announced she’d pay for groceries for customers in the store.

It was the middle of the day and wasn’t too busy. About 15 people benefited, including a police officer who was there picking up lunch for his cohorts.

“He didn’t want me to pay,” Smolyansky says. He told her a story about having just donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital because he heard a moving radio program about the children there. “I said ‘See, it’s karma.'”

The Chicago businesswoman has been on a campaign to do good deeds since the presidential election took the turn it did. She was a top fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton.

Smolyansky has donated to Women’s Media Center, Liz Taylor Aids Foundation, Planned Parenthood, ACLU, ADL and Cradles to Crayons. She purchased a refurbished piano for a community center in Wheeling. And she’s giving to Test400k, a nonprofit she founded that supports testing rape kits in order to hold perpetrators accountable. Combined, it’s several thousand dollars.

She’s posted about the giving on Facebook in hopes of inspiring others.

“If I’m about to get a big tax break I’m going to give out a lot more money to the issues and people about to get hit hard,” Smolyansky says, referring to tax cuts for the wealthy that are expected under a Donald Trump administration. “It’s giving me hope. Better than just feeling so helpless.”

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